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Cox Gives Grant To New YMCA Building Project

Construction of Pensacola’s new YMCA is getting another boost, a $300,000 grant from the James M. Cox Foundation, the charitable arm of Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group.

Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, across the street from the old Pensacola News Journal building. When completed in 2016, it will replace the YMCA on Palafox, and serve about three times as many people as the current location that’s been in service since 1951.

John Kagen, Chairman of the YMCA Board, says with the Cox grant fundraising for the $16 million project is about 75% complete, roughly $12 million. But he adds that beyond the glass, brick and mortar is what it will really mean for the Pensacola area as a family community center.

“Young families are going to stop by the in the morning and drop their kids off,” said Kagen. “Those kids when they get a little further down the road are going to have their swim meets in the pool. When those kids graduate high school, college, they come back and they’re working downtown and maybe come after work and work out. And when they retire they’re going to come back and take ballroom dancing lessons.”

Monday’s announcement comes in the wake of two other gifts of one million dollars each, from businessman Lewis Bear and his family, and from attorney Fred Levin and his.  Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward says the new Y will be the centerpiece of a six-acre, mixed-use development project, part of which are either on the drawing board, or gearing up for construction.

“Envision the building that’s going to be behind here,” said the Mayor. “You’re going to have retail on the west side; homes facing the east side. You’re going to have the YMCA here focused on the mind, the body and the spirit.”

And then it was time to display the oversized check, made out to the Y in the amount of $300,000. And like the highly visible check, YMCA Board Chairman John Kagen said the campaign will go the same high-profile route.

“Part of our fundraising was we weren’t going public until we got to the place where we’re at now,” said Kagen. “We’ve been a little quiet about the fundraising. That’s about the change.”